Professional Cultures and Reforming Schools: Does the Myth of Sisyphus ApplyReport as inadecuate

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Findings of a study that explored problems in the development of two newly created metropolitan middle schools are presented in this paper. Based on a framework of organizational change, the main premise contends that as new organizations, schools are also inherently vulnerable to the generic problems that face all organizations undergoing change. Data were derived from interviews with teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. Despite the differences in the schools' organizational processes, they encountered similar difficulties in planning and in facing the "liabilities of newness." Problems included articulating and learning new roles, creating trust and an organizational culture, and overcoming environmental pressures. Suggestions are offered for improving the planning process, creating a nurturing environment for teachers, and managing environmental pressures. A conclusion is that the myth of Sisyphus--being doomed to an endless uphill challenge--does not apply to school reform. (Contains 27 references.) (LMI)

Descriptors: Educational Innovation, Educational Planning, Intermediate Grades, Junior High Schools, Middle Schools, Organizational Change, Organizational Development, Participative Decision Making, Politics of Education, School Restructuring, Teacher Participation

Author: Louis, Karen Seashore; King, Jean A.


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